L.A. Metro’s Buses Are for Writers

I can still remember riding Metro’s 780 bus –from North Vermont and Prospect in the Los Feliz neighborhood–out towards Pasadena City College. With my notebooks in hand, I mused about the world I viewed through the windows. Still a teenager at the time, in true L.A. fashion I’d always take the seat all the way in the back-corner, right next to the windows, where I could watch nearly everything and everyone in front of me.

I started college in the city of Pasadena in the Fall of 2008, or the same year that Barack Obama would be elected to the office of the President of the United States.

It was a radically transformative time for me, and all I could wonder about through the days on the bus was just how much of the rest of the world was changing too. Somehow, I felt right at the center of this change, or at least near the center of something monumental, and I valued that feeling. It’s the reason why I wrote.

I often found myself as the only person on the bus scribbling away at a notebook, but didn’t think it strange. I also didn’t find it odd to spend whole evenings on the third floor of Pasadena’s Shatford Library, even if it meant I’d get to the bus stop after 9:00 PM.

It all came to me naturally as I made my way between what were two very different cities to me at the time.

In the evenings on the bus the stillness of nights lit up by the stars and streetlights above made for dazzling visions to take into my dreams. In the daytime on the bus, the bands of pigeons making their way through the clouds while people darted through the crosswalks made it clear that we were all in it together, separated only by whims of time and space.

And I always cared about these particulars of Los Angeles, seated quietly on Metro’s buses, absorbing the city’s landscape through the deep boulevards, on the way back to or from ‘the pueblo,’ long before it was the pueblo.

I’ve shared the days and nights with Los Angeles on the bus in sequences like these for nearly ten years now, and still do. But I wonder just how many people my eyes have actually seen through all of the rides I’ve taken, and just where they all might be now. I imagine most of them are still in Los Angeles like myself, but only Los Angeles knows.

Since those early days between L.A. and Pasadena, I’ve only gotten to see more of the world.

Other than my hometown, I’ve also been to Seattle, to Washington D.C., to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and New York, Miami and Chicago.

I’ve also been to Sacramento and San Francisco, to the wonderful city of Davis, to Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Watsonville, Oakland, Berkeley, Half-moon Bay, Pleasanton, Chico, and San Jose.

San Salvador, El Salvador
City Center; San Salvador, El Salvador

I’ve also been to Mexico thrice since 2008, and seen a number of its beautiful cities; from Tijuana to Guadalajara, to Mexico City, to the city of Puebla in the state of Puebla, to Zacapoaxtla, Oaxaca, Ayutla, and more.

This past summer I also visited El Salvador, to the heart in San Salvador, and to Soyapango, Santa Tecla, San Jose Guayabal, and more. Not one to let the adventure end early, I also visited Guatemala while I found myself on the central side, including the city Guatemala, as well as Tikal, and the adjacent city of Flores in Peten.

In 2017, I even made it to Japan. To the marvelous city of Tokyo and its various mini-cities or Japanese pueblos in Shibuya, Ginza, Harajuku, as well as in historic Kyoto, the wonderful city of Osaka, and Hiroshima too.

I’ve met many wonderful people through each of these trips, and am still in contact with many of them. Together, they form what Los Angeles and the world is to me today.

Yet if ten years ago on that 780 bus route someone had told me that I’d get to see all of these places and more, I can only imagine how curious I’d find the idea to be. Now, I’m only more curious about how the next ten years with The City and the world will unfold.

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Atomic Dome; Hiroshima, Japan (2017)

One thing is certain to me, though. The seats of L.A’s Metro buses–whether on the back-corner or elsewhere–are congenial places to write one’s thoughts out, to claim one’s dreams, and to imagine all the other places we can see and be a part of. Just as well, the city of Los Angeles is quite the city to write in. Together, these are the ‘Goldilocks conditions’ that have transported me across the world and which continue to do so.

So let’s keep writing, Los Angeles. L.A. Metro is but a great place for it.

J.T.

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